#1 … There are positives to take away from this game. But for every positive there seemed to be a negative as well.
As a result, Texas remained an inconsistent team that fell to 2-4 after a 31-26 loss to Oklahoma on a blustery day at the Cotton Bowl.
#2 … POSITIVE: Tyrone Swoopes showed resiliency in leading two 4Q TD drives.
#3 … NEGATIVE: Swoopes had to be resilient because earlier in the game:
1) Horrible special teams play again allowed a 91-yard kick return for by OU’s Alex Ross in the 1Q, giving OU a 7-3 lead.
2) Swoopes threw a pick-six to OU’s Zack Sanchez with 11:18 left in the 2Q (putting OU up 17-3).
3) Texas had yet ANOTHER fumble at the goal line (this time Texas recovered, but instead of a TD, UT settled for a FG).
4) The offense failed to score a point/make anything happen in the 3Q for the fourth straight game.
5) Costly penalties and poor time management hurt Texas throughout the game.
#4 … POSITIVE: The defense held OU to 79 yards through the 5:21 mark of the 3Q and completely dominated the Sooners in the first half.
At halftime, Texas led OU:
* In first downs – 14 to 1
* Yards – 278-29
* TOP: 22:28 to 7:32
* Samaje Perine had 5 carries for 8 yards (1.6 ypc), and QB Trevor Knight had 21 yards passing.
* OU failed to convert its first nine third downs (the first and only came early in the 4Q). OU finished 1-of-11 on third down.
#5 … NEGATIVE: The defense was put in a hole by the offense and special teams with Swoopes’ pick-six, a 91-yard kick return by Alex Ross with 8:04 left in the 1Q and a terrible decision by Adrian Colbert to deck Sterling Shepard on a punt return well before the ball had gotten to Shepard.
The flag on Colbert helped give OU starting field position at the Texas 46 en route to a 40-yard FG by OU’s Michael Hunnicutt for a 10-3 lead with 13:19 left in the 2Q.
The defense also got no help/points from the offense in the 3Q for the fourth straight game.
Here are Texas’ five drives that started in the 3Q (beginning with starting position):
1) TX19 ... 3 plays ... 4 yards ... 1:24 ... punt
2) Okla49 ... 3 plays ... 3 yards ... 1:24 ... punt
3) TX20 ... 5 plays ... 12 yards ... 2:04 ... punt
4) TX17 … 3 plays … 8 yards … 1:32 … punt
5) TX11 … 5 plays … 8 yards … 2:36 … punt
The Sooners, knowing Texas’ defense was tiring, went up-tempo on a 5-play, 63-yard drive, capped by on an out-and-up TD pass from Knight to Shepard with 4:17 left in 3Q.
The Texas defense bowed up for one more three-and-out, but after UT’s offense went three-and-out again (after gaining just 8 yards), OU went on another scoring drive. The Sooners’ tempo clearly bothered Texas, and it finally got Trevor Knight and the OU offense into a rhythm.
Texas also allowed OU RB Samaje Perine to get loose for a swing pass for 9 yards on third-and-4 from the OU 31 with just more than 3 minutes left. That first down allowed OU to burn another 3 minutes off the clock before punting.
Without timeouts to stop the clock, Texas was screwed.
1) UT burned its first timeout of the second half with 11:12 left before Swoopes ran for 2 yards on fourth-and-1 from the UT34, extending a TD drive.
2) UT burned another timeout with 4:57 left before Swoopes’ failed 2-point conversion.
3) And Texas burned its final timeout with 1:12 left and OU facing third-and-10 from the UT 46 on a drive that ended in an OU punt two plays later.
#6 … POSITIVE: Tyrone Swoopes threw for a career-high 334 yards (27 of 44 passing) and spread the ball around.
Jaxon Shipley came up really big with 9 catches for 115 yards, including a 32-yarder that helped set up a FG.
#7 … NEGATIVE: UT’s receivers struggled with drops throughout the day, and Harris was called for holding OU CB Zack Sanchez, wiping out a 73-yard run by Tyrone Swoopes to the OU 15 with four minutes left in the 1Q and OU leading 7-3.
“There might have been a little tug (on Sanchez’s jersey), but I thought it was a bad call,” Harris said.
#8 … POSITIVE: Swoopes was much better this week against Oklahoma than he was at home last week against Baylor because he stopped thinking so much and just played ball.
Swoopes showed pocket presence, sliding to his left and right to avoid rush while keeping his eyes downfield.
And he was much more decisive as a runner, carrying the ball 11 times for 50 yards (4.5 ypc), including a 12-yard TD run in the 4Q.
Watson said he told Swoopes to trust the game plan and just go out and play against OU.
“Last week, you could tell he was processing, which meant he was thinking and it slowed down everything he was doing,” Watson said. “We told him we’d have him in the right situations and to totally trust the game plan, and he did that.”
#9 … NEGATIVE: Special teams keeps making critical mistakes.
Charlie Strong said on the 91-yard kick return for a TD by Alex Ross “two guys fell down on the play” causing lane integrity to be sacrificed.
But I’ll follow up on this Monday. Special teams has been a disaster for Texas, and it’s time to press Strong on this.
Adrian Colbert’s punt catch interference flag was also egregious.
(Even Jaxon Shipley misplayed a fair catch, letting the ball hit the ground and roll backward 20 yards.)
#10 … POSITIVE: Texas went up-tempo on its final scoring drive and went 48 yards in 6 plays in 1:41 with Swoopes scoring on a 12-yard TD run with 4:57 to play.
The players said Swoopes tends to be better in up-tempo because everything is simplified and you have a better chance of catching the defense misaligned.
When I asked Watson if he plans to incorporate more up-tempo offense, especially in the 3Q, he said, “We kept their offense off the field in the first half, and that’s a big part of our gameplan – to keep our defense rested.”
Still, it might be worth mixing in an up-tempo drive in the 3Q – anything – to shake things up.
#11 … NEGATIVE: The penalties! Texas finished with 11 flags for 85 yards (compared to OU’s 3 flags for 20 yards).
Somehow Texas overcame three false starts (one on Marcus Hutchins and 2 on Swaim) and a delay of game on a 13-play, 64-yard drive to a field goal (after having second-and-7 from the OU 10) that ate 6:44 off the clock and gave Texas a 3-0 lead.
Texas also overcame a false start on Darius James, which put UT in third-and-12 from the OU 38, before Swoopes found John Harris on a post route for a 38-yard TD to cut OU’s lead to 17-10 in the 2Q.
Watson said it was because the noise was so difficult. But Texas was also on a verbal count at that time instead of a silent count.
Texas went to a silent count in the second half.
Watson said the silent count forced Texas to scale back a lot of the pre-snap motion Texas was using effectively in the first half.
#12 … POSITIVE: Taylor Doyle
Watson said from what he saw Doyle, for the most part, held up well against OU’s 6-6, 334-pound redshirt sophomore DT Jordan Phillips.
“Taylor had been our backup center, but he worked there all week and gave us some more size in there against a heads-up nose like Phillips,” Watson said.
Swoopes was sacked twice, but both times it appeared to come breakdowns on the edges, including OU’s Eric Striker blowing by Marcus Hutchins for a sack.
#13 … NEGATIVE: Doyle’s snap at the goal line just before halftime, hitting Tyrone Swoopes in the facemask and leading to a fumble because Swoopes wasn’t ready for the snap.
The players said Texas was on a verbal count on that play – not a silent count – even though the Longhorns were buried in OU’s end of the Cotton Bowl in THE loudest part of the stadium.
“We went to a silent count on everything after that,” Watson said.
Watson said Swoopes has the right to move to a silent count whenever he thinks it’s best, because Watson is up in the coaches’ booth and can’t always determine just how loud it is.
I don’t know how you’re not on a silent count there. My goodness, it’s deafening on OU’s goal line.
Texas recovered the ball but had to settle for a 20-yard FG instead of a possible TD.
#14 … POSITIVE: No one appeared to get hurt for Texas in this game.
#15 … NEGATIVE: Texas is 2-4 with a difficult road ahead to reach 6 wins and a bowl game.
When Charlie Strong was asked if UT could still reach a bowl game, he said:
“It’s a one-game season. All we’re looking to do is build off of this and get ready for Iowa State.”
BOTTOM LINE: Until Texas stops beating itself in critical situations, the Longhorns are not going to take the next step.
Poor punt coverage and kick coverage, awful overall special teams execution and a failure to make plays in that area - has to improve!
And a 91-yard kick return by OU in what turns out to be a one-possession game.
I can only think of Shipley’s 41-yard punt return against Kansas as a big play for the special teams outside of some very effective punts by Will Russ.
The clock management is on the coaches. Period. They’re either coaching it or allowing it to happen.
There are positives, and I didn’t even mention the determined running of RB Malcolm Brown (19 carries for 78 yards, 4.1 ypc, including a 22-yard run).
Brown’s biggest play may have been getting his knee down before OU stripped him of the ball, and OU’s Quentin Hayes ran it in for a TD. A subsequent review said Brown’s knee was down, overturning OU’s TD.
A gauntlet of facing BYU, UCLA, Baylor and OU in the first half of the season is over. But TCU and K-State are better than everyone thought. Oklahoma State can move the football, and so can WVU (although I like the Texas defense in those matchups). And Texas has to go to Lubbock.
I can see Texas beating Iowa State and Texas Tech. And I can see Texas rising up and beating WVU (in Austin) and Oklahoma State (in Stillwater) with an outside shot of taking down TCU or Kansas State.
I’m not ruling out 6 wins. But Texas could easily lose 3 more games if the improvement doesn't come (especially on special teams).
Texas’ defense is legit. If the offense can keep coming, Texas could be pretty salty by the end of the season.
Believe it or not, there was some key progress today at the most important position on the field – quarterback - and the second-most troubled position for the Longhorns - offensive line.
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